Political News

Trump Signs Budget Deal to Raise Spending and Reopen Government

Posted February 9, 2018 8:11 p.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2018 8:25 p.m. EST

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday morning signed into law a far-reaching budget deal that will boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars and allowed the federal government to reopen after a brief shutdown.

In an early morning tweet, Trump said he had signed the bill, adding “Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more.”

Trump’s signature came quickly after the House gave final approval early Friday to the deal, hours after a one-man blockade by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., delayed the votes and forced the government to briefly close.

House Democrats, after threatening to bring the bill down because it did nothing to protect young immigrants in the country illegally, gave Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the votes he did not have in his own party and ensured passage. In the end, 73 House Democrats voted yes to more than offset the 67 Republicans who voted no.

Just before the vote, Ryan voiced support for bringing a debate on immigration to the House floor — although he did not make a concrete promise, as Democratic leaders had wanted.

With Trump’s signature, the government reopened before many Americans were aware it had closed, with a deal that includes about $300 billion in additional funds over two years for military and nonmilitary programs, almost $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires, and a higher statutory debt ceiling.

It should pave the way for a measure of stability through September 2019 after months of the government’s lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis. Trump will get to boast of a huge increase in military spending, long promised, but his desire to more broadly reorder the government with deep cuts to programs like environmental protection, health research and foreign aid are dead for now — as is any semblance of fiscal austerity.

Paul made that final point. Angered at the huge spending increases at the center of the accord, he delayed passage for hours Thursday night with a demand to vote on an amendment that would have kept in place the strict caps on spending that the deal raises.

The Senate finally passed the measure, 71-28, shortly before 2 a.m. Friday. The House followed suit around 5:30 a.m., voting 240-186 for the bill.

Before Paul waged his assault on the budget deal, trouble was already brewing in the House, where opposition from the Republicans’ most ardent conservative members, coupled with Democratic dissenters dismayed that the deal did nothing for young immigrants, created new tension as the clock ticked toward midnight.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the Democratic leader, told a closed-door meeting of House Democrats that she would oppose the deal and said that Democrats would have leverage if they held together to demand a debate on immigration legislation. But she suggested that she would not stand in the way of lawmakers who wanted to vote their conscience.

Pressing the issue further, Pelosi and the next two highest-ranking House Democrats sent a letter to Ryan noting their desire for the government to remain open and imploring him to make a public statement about the scheduling of a vote on legislation to protect young immigrants who are now shielded from deportation by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

“Most of our members believe the budget agreement is a reasonable compromise to address America’s military strength and critical domestic priorities, like fighting the opioid crisis, boosting NIH, moving forward to resolve the pension crisis, caring for our veterans, making college more affordable and investing in child care for working families,” they wrote. “We are writing to again reiterate our request that you make a public statement regarding the scheduling of a vote on a DACA bill.”

Just before the vote Friday morning, Ryan offered a further reassurance about his commitment to addressing DACA. Once the budget deal has been approved, he said, “we will focus on bringing that debate to this floor and finding a solution.”